You’ve been plugging along for some time now and, finally, you’ve got the details of your membership site all worked out.
Your membership offer is clear, and you’ve squared away details like:
- Which tutorials to include
- What content to post regularly
- How much to charge
- Various membership levels
What a load off your back.
Now that you’ve got your membership vision all set, it’s time to bring it to life.
You ask yourself, “Where do you head next? And what exactly do you need from a platform to create the best experience for your membership customers?”
Today, we’ve got the answers for you.
Here are 11 must-have features to look for when setting up your membership site, so you can use a platform that works best for you and your membership business.
Ready to dig in? Great. Just grab your free membership feature checklist and let’s get started.
What features should a membership site have?
#1. Multiple membership levels
Multiple membership levels allow you to offer your audience a custom package that best suits their needs and budget.
It’s important to offer options when setting a price for your membership plans because not everyone will immediately want to jump into your biggest package, especially if they’re new to your brand.
Plus, when you use tiered pricing, like the three-pronged pricing technique, it helps drive more memberships to the mid-tier level, giving your members both a high and low price point anchor.
For instance, the founder of Salesforce Casts, Krishna Teja Karman, offers his audience three membership options so they can choose a plan most appropriate for their company size and budget.
You can follow in Krishna’s footsteps and offer your members three-pronged pricing or you can offer a variety of tiered package levels.
Either way, with multiple membership levels, you have the flexibility to test out a variety of packages as your business and audience grows.
After all, it’s about catering to your members’ needs -- various membership levels allow you to do that.
Our next set of features help with that, too.
#2. Well-designed login, welcome, and content pages
When it comes to designing your membership site, it’s vital to create an interface that supports a positive user experience (UX) for your members.
Why? Because the goal of UX design is parallel to your business goals:
“Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”
So, the closer you can get to hitting that mark, the easier it’ll be to hit your other goal posts, particularly your financial goals.
That’s not just conjecture, either. A better UX makes for a better business. In fact, there’s a $100 return on investment (ROI) for every dollar spent towards creating stronger, more seamless user experiences with smarter design.
This ROI alone outranks any marketing or promotional effort, and that's not even scratching the surface of what UX can do. It's vital for your SEO, too. (Want to learn more? Check out this 3-step guide to improving user experience).
Either way, prioritizing your membership site's UX is a no-brainer, so ensure that whichever platform you choose allows you to create well-designed pages for your members to interact with, starting with the login page.
Let’s walk through founder Larry Silverberg’s Actors Revolution membership site, where you can see his clean login page designed using Podia’s platform.
As a member who wants to access the Actors Revolution member content, the path is straightforward, has ample margins and white space, and adapts to mobile devices so the experience is retained across touch points.
The same is true of the dashboard, too. Continuing with Larry’s site, once you successfully log in to the membership site for the first time, you’re greeted with this welcome page.
It’s obvious that you simply click on the custom “view posts” button next, which takes you directly to the exclusive membership content.
You then immediately see a display of options for members-only material, including “products and courses” and updated “posts.”
The “posts” tab hosts the more interactive part of your membership, which is where you regularly engage with your members by sharing recent articles or videos.
Pretty easy to navigate, right?
Not just easy, but effortlessly functional. The last thing you want is to turn away your members because of a poorly designed site, which is a common occurrence for sites that aren’t up to snuff. In fact, 94% of visitors close websites and stop trusting sites with degraded web design.
What a staggering number.
The moral is:
Be sure to use a membership platform that allows you to design an excellent UX, so you can engage and retain your renewing members in the long-run.
After all, one of the biggest perks of having a membership business is the recurring revenue from your ongoing membership fees. It’s best not to chance messing that up.
On the note of retaining your members, our next feature, dripped emails, is just as important for keeping your customers engaged and your materials organized.
#3. Time-released email notifications
As you manage your membership site, you need the ability to send out time-released emails to your members after they join.
Why? Because the nurturing doesn’t stop after your leads become paid members. It’s important to continue to engage with your members through subsequent emails and updated content if you want a loyal customer base.
Dripped email notifications (i.e., automated emails sent in a scheduled sequence) are a great way to strengthen and nurture your relationship with your members.
On average, customers open post-purchase emails at a 59.1% rate, which is 40% higher than the welcome email.
And since every membership post is a post-purchase email of sorts -- people are paying you on a recurring basis -- email is an especially great way to provide follow-up support over time.
Take advantage of that opportunity by dripping content that continues to solve their problems and entice them to engage with your membership program.
Just make sure you keep it personal, i.e., relevant, to your audience. 80% of marketers agree that personalized content is more effective than unpersonalized.
An effective way to create personalized emails is to use email segmentation to address your member’s specific needs, problems, and stage of the buying journey.
In other words, different types of customer need different emails. A new member is likely in a different stage than a veteran member who’s been a part of your community for several months, so be sure to call it out in your email messaging and content.
In a nutshell:
Personalization, a significant part of retaining your membership, is much more convenient when you have a platform that allows you to automate and schedule your emails based on your members’ behaviors and actions.
As for how to send and manage those emails, that’s where the next feature -- integrations -- comes in.
Vertical integration across your business is a must-have feature in your membership platform. Without integrations, both your members’ and your own user experience can be clunky and frustrating.
For instance, if you’re using a third-party email service, such as Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign, you want to be able to integrate your contacts with your platform of choice.
This allows you to continue segmenting your lists by tracking purchases and various behaviors and actions that your members take, like which links and resources they click on.
Otherwise, you’ll be sorting through siloed emails lists, losing track of who’s received what and when.
Email isn’t the only service provider you want to be able to integrate. Look out for these categories, too:
- Payment processors - e.g., Stripe or PayPal
- Analytics - Such as Google Analytics or Hotjar
- Advertising platforms - Like Facebook, Pinterest, or GoogleAds
- Third-party code snippets - Any installed app that requires a code snippet, such as Sumo, Proof, Olark, ProveSource, or Deadline Funnel
All in all, as your audience and their needs expand, so can your business, as long as you have all your tools working in conjunction with one another. Integrations accommodate your need for using multiple tools to grow your business in one convenient place.
A seamless growth experience sounds ideal, no?
#5. Trials, discounts, and coupons
The ability to offer freebies, discounts, coupons, and trials is a must. This gives your audience the chance to get to know, like, and trust you before committing to your membership.
Why? Put simply, free trials really work. They’re a great gateway into paid memberships. In fact, subscription-based businesses, like membership sites, that offer a free trial have a conversion rate of 59.9%.
Better yet, use a membership platform that allows you to offer free tiers so members can explore your valuable content -- and preview your style -- at their convenience.
For example, Michael Yadchuk offers his audience a free Test Run membership level, which they can trial before joining as paid Productive Writer VIP members.
You can also dedicate one of your digital products as a free digital download, just like the founder of Storytelling Membership for Teachers, Jamie Keddie, does. He offers prospective members the chance to sample a membership video before purchasing his monthly membership.
If you don’t want to give anything away for free, make sure your platform offers the flexibility of offering discounts and coupons to your members.
When using an all-in-one platform like Podia, setting up coupons and discounts is easy. You simply navigate to the “memberships” menu, head to the “plans” tab, and click “create a plan.”
Then, just name your discount, set your pricing, and check the products you want to apply the discount to, and hit “publish plan” on the next page.
Simple as that.